Compton, Nether

Pages 100-102

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1952.

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In this section


(O.S. 6 in. V, S.E.)

Nether Compton is a small parish and village 2½ m. W. of Sherborne. The church is the principal monument.


(1) Parish Church of St. Nicholas stands at the S. end of the village. The walls are of ashlar-faced rubble with freestone dressings; the roofs are tiled. The Chancel, Nave and South Porch were built in the 13th century. The church was much altered in the 15th century when the North Chapel and West Tower were added and the nave partly rebuilt. The church was restored in 1885 when the N. Chapel was extended E. to form an Organ Chamber and Vestry, an arch opened in the N. wall of the chancel, the chancel-arch rebuilt and the chancel refaced.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (18¾ ft. by 15 ft.) has a partly restored 15th-century E. window of two trefoiled lights in a four-centred head; the cinque foiled rear-arch may be of the 13th century. In the N. wall is a modern arch; further E. is a partly restored 13th-century lancet-window. In the S. wall is a 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head; the 15th-century doorway has chamfered jambs and two-centred head. The chancel-arch is modern.

The North Chapel has a 15th-century W. bay and a modern extension to the E. built partly of re-used material, and incorporating 15th-century windows, a buttress and a gargoyle. In the E. wall of the vestry is a reset 15th-century window similar to that in the S. wall of the chancel; the modern doorway in the W. wall incorporates a mediæval stone forming one half of the trefoiled rear-arch. In the N. wall of the chapel are two 15th-century windows, the eastern reset and of three cinque-foiled lights in a square head with moulded reveals and label; the western window is of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label with returned stops. In the W. wall is a window similar to the eastern window in the N. wall; on the W. wall are two original pinnacles with pierced bases.

The Nave (43 ft. by 17 ft.) has, in the N. wall, a 15th-century arch, moulded and two-centred and springing from moulded and shafted responds; the N. face of the arch has been cut back; high in the wall, E. of the arch, is the 15th-century upper doorway to the rood-loft, with steps in the thickness of the wall, moulded jambs and a four-centred head; in the western part of the wall are two partly restored 15th-century windows similar to the N.E. window of the N. chapel; the N. doorway, now blocked, has chamfered jambs and square head. In the S. wall are three windows similar to those in the N. wall, but the middle window is modern; the 13th-century S. doorway has jambs and two-centred arch of two chamfered orders with a label.

Nether Compton, Parish Church of St Nicholas

The West Tower (8 ft. square) is of the 15th century and of three stages with a moulded plinth, embattled parapet, angle-pinnacles and gargoyles and an embattled turret at the N.E. angle. The tower-arch has moulded responds and is two-centred; the reveals and soffit have two rows of trefoil-headed panels. The W. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label; the W. doorway has moulded jambs and segmental-pointed arch in a square head with trefoiled spandrels and a moulded label with returned stops. In the S. wall of the second stage is a square-headed window. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label.

The South Porch has a 13th-century outer archway, two-centred and of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous and the inner springing from corbel-shafts with moulded capitals and fluted bases.

The Roof of the nave is of the 15th century and of barrel-form with moulded ribs forming eight bays each of four panels; there are bosses at the intersections carved with the instruments of the Passion, the holy initials, foliage, lion, human face, a double-headed eagle and a monkey; the wall-plates are embattled and brattished and have carved heads under alternate ribs. The ground-stage of the tower has 15th-century moulded beams and a carved boss in the middle.

Fittings—Bells: five; 1st and 3rd by Thomas Purdue, 1658; 2nd from the Salisbury foundry, 15th-century and inscribed "Sit semper sine Ue qui Michi dicit Ave"; 4th dated 1585. Consecration Crosses: On chancel—(a) on external S. wall, W. of S. window; on N. chapel—(b) on N. external wall, W. of N.E. window, reset; on nave—(c) on external N. wall, between N.E. window and doorway; (d) on E. splay of N. doorway; (e and f) on E. jamb of S. doorway, two crosses; (g) on E. splay of S. doorway; (h) on E. splay of S.W. window; on W. face of tower— (i) against N. buttress; all formy crosses in circles except second on jamb of S. doorway, mediæval. Doors: In turret-staircase of tower—with ribs planted on and strap-hinges, probably 16th-century; to second stage of tower, of battens with ledges, 17th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with moulded under edge, octagonal to square stem and chamfered base, 14th-century. Niche: In N. chapel—in N. wall, with canopied head, 15th-century, modern front and restored figure. Piscina: In chancel—modern but incorporating old work. Plate: includes a cup of 1571 and a stand-paten of 1702. Pulpit: of oak, with two and a half panelled sides, moulded and enriched cornice, upper panels carved with arabesques and lower panels with enriched arches, early 17th-century. Recess: In chancel—in S. wall, rectangular recess. Screen (Plate 34): Under chancel-arch—of stone and of five bays, including doorway, and finished with moulded cornice; doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred head; side bays with open upper panels, two bays on N. each of two trefoiled ogee lights with tracery; bay next doorway on S. with wide four-centred arch similar to doorway and against wall a single light similar to those in N. side-bays, late 15th-century. Seating: In nave—twenty or more 17th-century pews made up with some modern work. In chancel—bench made up with elaborately traceried bench-end with fleur-de-lis poppy-head; six panels with similar tracery incorporated in modern stalls, early 16th-century. In tower—two 17th-century coffin-stools with turned legs. Stoup: In S. porch —in E. wall, recess with chamfered jambs and two-centred head, semi-circular projecting bowl, mediaeval. Sundials: On jambs of entrance to S. porch—two scratch-dials. Miscellanea: In nave—N. of chancel-arch, reset trefoiled head of panel, 15th-century. In N. chapel—beast-corbel reset as roof-corbel. In porch—over inner doorway, reset stone with dog-tooth and other ornament, 13th-century.

(2) Congregational Church stands on the S. side of the parish, nearly 5/8 m. S.S.E. of the parish church. The walls are of ashlar and the roofs are slated. It was built in the 18th century and the N. vestry added later; the interior was reconstructed in 1881. In the E. front is a transomed window of two lights with square head and moulded label; in the S. front are two doorways with moulded four-centred heads and moulded labels and two windows similar to that on the E. but of three lights. A chamfered plinth is carried round the building. The E. and W. ends have hipped gables. In the interior, N. side, there is a gallery with panelled front.


(3) Arches, rebuilt in the grounds of Compton House S. of the village, are two in number. They are of early 14th-century materials, but there seems to be no evidence of their provenance. The more northerly is on the E. edge of Home Coppice ¼ m. S. of the church; it has double chamfered jambs and two-centred arch with a moulded label. The second archway stands on the parish boundary 260 yards S.W. of the first; it is similar to that already described; set in the wall W. of it is an early 15th-century window and E. of the arch is a recess with a two-centred head.

(4) The Round House (Plate 125), a lodge 400 yards E.N.E. of Compton House (Over Compton (2)) on the parish boundary, with walls of roughly squared and coursed stone and thatched roofs, was built early in the 19th century. It is circular with a conical roof and there is a thatched pent-roof over the ground floor on rustic timber posts. The windows are of two lights with stone mullions, transomed on the ground floor, containing glazing with a Gothic design of interlacing bars; over the doorway is a round-headed niche.

(5) School and School-House stands 80 yards S.E. of the church. The walls are of ashlar and the roofs are tiled. It was built in 1848 in Gothic style. The School windows have three lights with trefoil heads and square labels over; the School-house windows have three plain lights in square heads with moulded labels. The walls are finished with an embattled parapet.

Monuments (6–14)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are thatched or covered with modern materials. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original fireplaces.

(6) Cottage, nearly opposite the church, retains two original stone-mullioned windows with labels. A panelled door in the upper S.E. room has an enriched frieze.

(7) House, on the W. side of the road, 90 yards N.W. of the church, was built early in the 18th century. The E. front is of roughly coursed dressed stone, the others are of rubble. The windows retain original flush frames.

(8) Lower Dairy Farm, house on the E. side of the road 230 yards N. of the church, has a tablet on the W. wall with the initials and date A. 1661 R.R., W.R., T.H.

(9) Griffin's Head Inn, 50 yards N. of (8), was built probably in 1599, the date on a panel on the S. front.

(10) Buckler's Farm, house 100 yards N.E. of (9), retains some original stone-mullioned windows in the S. end.

(11) Old Forge, house on the N. side of the road 540 yards S.E. of the church.

(12) Gateway, S.E. of (10), is of mid 18th-century date and of ashlar with a round-headed arch flanked by coupled Doric pilasters supporting an entablature and pediment.

(13) House, on the W. side of the road 380 yards E.S.E. of (11), was repaired in 1664 as appears from a stone in the E. gable with that date and the initials P.B. The front retains its stone-mullioned windows, those of the lower range with labels. A 17th-century addition at the back has an ornamental apex-stone.

(14) House, nearly opposite (13), has been much altered.


(15) Lynchets, on a N.W. slope about ½ m. N.E. of the church. There are six terraces.

(16) Lynchets, in Home Copse 600 yards S. of the church.